Permanent shelter an idea worth exploring further

The local homeless population has at least one option: Room At The Inn, whose current model requires homeless to rotate between nine area churches, with overnight locations moved each week.

They also have the RATI’s Warming Center along West Washington Street.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to have both in the same building?

In January, the Marquette Downtown Development Authority was presented with a proposal for a permanent shelter to be housed in the third-floor residential unit above the Warming Center.

RATI Director Nick Emmendorfer said the idea behind a permanent shelter is to end homelessness.

We don’t believe being homeless is the ideal way of living for most people. There’s the constant search for food, shelter and the insecurity that comes with having no job, although we suspect some people who are employed also are technically homeless.

Emmendorfer said the purpose of a single facility is to take people off the streets and prepare them for a stable existence.

Proposed plans include turning the residential unit into a 24-bed or 12-bunk bed, year-round facility, with the lower level used as an overflow sleeping space.

RATI now shelters an average of 20 to 25 guests per night and serves an average of 1,600 meals per month. By housing the shelter space and Warming Center in the same facility, RATI can more easily manage guests and centralize the services RATI provides under one roof.

Having a central location also would relieve the churches of the burden of having to save space for guests every night.

As well intentioned as people are, it takes special training to run an emergency shelter, and there’s where RATI can be of benefit.

A central location also would help guests since they wouldn’t have to walk to a church at night for shelter. This especially is true during the harsh Upper Peninsula weather.

We hope this idea continues to be explored. Having a single shelter for the area’s homeless would benefit staff and guests.

After all, RATI’s title is Room At The Inn, not Rooms At The Inn.